Johannesburg – CAGE Africa calls on journalists to adopt an ethical and balanced approach when writing stories regarding the return of South African citizens from Syria.
Allegations emerged in the press that the individuals in question were returning “from ISIS camps”, drawing an assumption that they were part of the so-called Islamic State group and were descending en masse into South Africa.
This was a completely inaccurate impression of what was stated on the subject of returnees during a conference held by the Afro-Middle East Centre in Durban, and as a result the paper in question should issue an apology.
We urge journalists to adopt an ethical approach and wait for clear evidence to be presented regarding the exact motivations of these individuals for traveling to Syria.
There are several armed factions in Syria and it is possible that some individuals even went to join aid organisations, or went along as family members.
Furthermore, information fed to the press by so-called counter-extremism experts and analysts to bolster these panicky narratives must be seen in light of the fact that they are all on the payroll of countries who are deeply vested in making huge profits from the rhetoric of the ‘War on Terror’.
Those who did make the decision to join the illegal group, should be tried in court if it is suspected they committed war crimes.
Feroze Boda, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:
“South Africa must act in a manner that subscribes to the rule of law and is not alarmist. This particular story gave the impression that over 100 ISIS supporting individuals were due to descend on South Africa – this is actually a totally inaccurate reflection of what was said by Mr Na’eem Jennah, as AMEC has clarified.”
“Fanning flames of fear around ‘’ISIS jihadists” and other such erroneous labels will only create suspicion around the Muslim community and drive further divisions in society. ”
“These individuals may regret their choices or they may have gone to Syria for non-violent reasons. If so, they deserve support to resettle in the community in a peaceful manner, without being hassled by those intent on whipping up ‘War on Terror’ narratives.”
“These narratives have seen disastrous policies and laws implemented across the globe, all of which have had an extremely damaging effect on society, and which have only fueled the rise of the right-wing populism of Trump and his ilk in Europe, who feed on the fear of Muslims.”
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)